Thursday, December 30, 2004

In today's LA DAILY NEWS, Beth Barrett reports that California Senator Dianne Feinstein is ready to reintroduce legislation that will target street gangs and bring Federal charges on crimes that have previously been considered local beefs.

She sounds steamed up and ready for a brawl. "I've watched, virtually all my political career, gangs go from next to nothing in this country to where they are the major criminal enterprises, more vicious than Mafia crime ever was."

The final wording on the bill hasn't been hammered out yet. Some legislators are afraid the bill might be draconian. An aide to a Senate Democrat 9curiously left unnamed) said, "The big question was whether the federal government should be federalizing street crimes." That objection has been moot for decades. The RICO statutes already federalizes what used to be considered pure street crimes like conspiracy to murder, loan sharking, extortion, drug traficking etc. That horse is already out of the barn.

Feinstein's bill would elevate other crimes to the level of a federal offense. The most interesting item in her bill would make it a federal crime to recruit a minor into a street gang. On the most basic level, if you're an 18-year-old soldado and jump in your 16-year-old cousin, you've just committed a federal offense. Which means you don't go to county or the pinta. You go to Joliet or wherever there's room in the federal prison system. That makes it tough on family visits, not to mention all the other restrictions you don't face in state prison.

Despite objections from juvenile offender activists, the LE sources quoted in the DN piece are all in favor of the new laws. No surprise there.

To all you pee wees, midgets and tinys out there, the eye of Sauron is upon you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It seems that the response to international terrorism is having some fallout on the streets. The New York City DA charged 19 members of the ST. JAMES BOYS GANG, a Mexican neighborhood in NYC, with terrorism for conducting what's normally been considered street gang business.

During a run-of-the-mill street beef, EDGAR MORALES, a homie that claimed SJB, wounded his target but also accidentally hit and killed a 10-year old innocent bystander, MELANIE MENDEZ. Instead of going with the usual charges, the DA decided to prosecute under the new terrorism laws and as a result MORALES is the first street gangster in NEW YORK STATE to be charged as a terrorist. He probably also qualifies as the first gangster in the country to be charged with terrorism. We've never heard of anyone else being similarly charged so this might turn into a milestone case.

MORALES has yet to go to trial, but if he were convicted under non-terror laws, he'd get a max of 25 to life. Under the tighter terror laws he's loooking at life without parole.

Civil libertarians are predictably up in arms about this because the terror laws were never intended to target street criminals. Just the big nasty guys that fly planes into buildings, shoot schoolkids and chop off women's heads. But once a prosecutor has a tool in the toolbox, you can bet the tool will be used. It was inevitable.

The same thing happened with the RICO statutes created in 1970. RICO was originally designed to take down the COSA NOSTRA. But once LE found that other criminal enterprises fit the description, RICO has been used against groups that didn't quite measure up to the power and organization of the LCN.

What this means to neighborhoods is that the next time a group of homies is caught in some anti-social act, even if it's conducting business that doesn't involve civilians, they might be looking at forever. In the eyes of the government, you're no longer a street soldado putting in the work. You're a terrorist.

Monday, December 20, 2004

INTHEHAT has to have one of the most well-informed audiences on this subject in the blogosphere. As the reader mentions below, back in March we posted a mention of PROJECT GET GOING and the murder of ELLEN DELIA who ran the operation. We also mentioned that GET GOING had been thoroughly infiltrated by the brothers and they were using government provided cars and expense accounts to run the business of the EME back in the late 1970s. ELLEN DELIA was murdered in SACRAMENTO on her way, it was rumored, to blow the whistle on the infiltration. Here's the reader's elaboration on that post. To make it easier to understand, M.D. is MICHAEL DELIA, ELLEN'S estranged husband. COCOLISO is the late JOE MORGAN, GODFATHER of the EME. J.M. is again, Joe Morgan. The reader also corrects my mistake. I said "city councilman" when in fact I should have said "State Senator." Mea culpa. Thanks for the correction.

"Back on Friday March 5 2004 in the 5th paragraph you stated that an assistant to a city councilman was found murdered. Could that have been Robert L. Lewis, the administrative assistant to State Senator Alex P. Garcia? I do not recall any other government type person being murdered. As to M.D. having "Cocoliso's" blessings in the operation of Project Get Going, that is true. It was through M.D.'s father, M.D. Senior,(A very close friend of J.M. that M.D. was allowed into La EME, in fact, M.D.Jr. was put on a "Hit list" for bringing to much publicity to EME during the murders that were occuring and being tied to PGG.)J.M. had the "Hit" removed from M.D. as a favor to M.D. Senior. (M.D.Senior was a "wheelman" for the Sica brothers, Frank and Joe.)"

For those who may not know, the SICA brothers were connected to the ITALIAN MAFIA aka LA COSA NOSTRA. ROBERT L. LEWIS was supposedly also connected to both the Italian Mafia and to the Brothers. We could actually write a book about all the various connections and cross-connections that emanate from the DELIA case. It would be like reconstructing an explosion in a wire factory. Here it is in brief.

MICHAEL DELIA was a friend of LEWIS. LEWIS was in the construction business and thanks to giving State Senator ALEX GARCIA financial and other forms of "support" LEWIS had GARCIA's fullest attention. It was through LEWIS that DELIA got Federal and State funding and some zoning variance for PROJECT GET GOING's office. PGG was at one time located in GARCIA's office prior to getting its own facility in BOYLE HEIGHTS. LEWIS, however, was also known by law enforcement to have connections with the JOE "CRAZY JOE" GALLO crime family in NEW YORK. This is not the same JOE GALLO who was PAUL CASTELLANO'S consigliere. Different GALLO, different set of connections.

The CRAZY JOE connection was through long-time COSA NOSTRA soldier JIMMY "THE WEASEL" FRATIANNO and his partner MIKE RIZITELLO, aka MIKE RIZZI. Law enforcement at the time (the late 1970s) had observed meetings between LEWIS, RIZITELLO and SENATOR ALEX GARCIA over RIZITELLO wanting GARCIA to help obtain a parole for some of his GOODFELLAS locked up in prison. Or so the story goes. There was also information at the time that MIKE RIZZI had some interest in state pension funds and wanted GARCIA's help. Maybe someone could shed some light on this. My records are incomplete.

To make a very long, very complicated story short, ALFIE SOSA, the triggerman on the ELEN DELIA execution got a life sentence in March 1982. SOSA, according to testimony given by informants, was also DELIA's boyfriend. That was probably the reason she got into the car with him in SACRAMENTO the night of her killing. She trusted the guy.

There are other offshoots and interesting threads in this case. One of the other people in the car that night was EDDIE "SAILOR BOY" GONZALES who was either an informant at the time or became one shortly thereafter. He presented testimony to a grand jury abou the DELIA murder but the information was excluded because it was obtained in a wonky way that JUDGE BOSKOVICH threw out. Another long story there. For those who keep track of these things, SAILOR BOY was a tight pal of another famous informant/dropout/hit man, RAYMOND "MUNDO" MENDOZA. If you follow the MUNDO thread, you go to a lot of places and you eventually wind up in AMERICAN ME and the EDWARD OLMOS dustup with JOE MORGAN. You also end up at the ANA LIZARAGA case, another incident of a woman who knew too much or cared too much.

Follow the thread back to MICHAEL DELIA and you end up with the murder of YSIDRO "FRITOS" TRUJILLO who was found shot to death in LANCASTER about 200 yards away from MICHAEL DELIA SR.'s property. DELIA JR. was also the alleged shooter in the LEWIS murder. There was speculation that LEWIS was killed by DELIA on a contract basis because LEWIS owed money to COSA NOSTRA loan sharks. Keep following the MIKE DELIA thread and you end up with ABRAHAM "ICEPICK JOE" HERNANDEZ and JUAN AGUILAR HERNANDEZ (no relation), war with the NF and a dozen homicides all over the state. It's a rich tapestry of intrigue, drugs and murder.

After seven years of court cases, MICHAEL DELIA was eventually released in 1984 after taking a plea. Current whereabouts unknown.

Anyway, with all the connections, we could spin this out forever. It's getting late and I gotta go Christmas shopping. More to come. And hey, this is to the anonymous reader, thanks for setting the record straight and let's talk.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


One of the goals of this blog is to provide unfiltered information or information not available elsewhere. We recently got this email from an anonymous reader. Generally, we don't run emails from readers because we're not sure if the reader has an agenda or has a particular axe to grind. This one sounds genuine and fairly balanced. We found it interesting and think you will too. It's worth a read.

"I'm an old veterano from east L.A. friends with true carnales of LA EME and THE MONGOL BROTHERS like many other veteranos and SURENOS here in Los Angeles. I'm glad to hear that the green light was called off. I'd like to school you on a quick tip.

The Mongols motorcycle club was not formed in prison, they were formed on the streets of Montebello consisting of a bunch of low riders and cholos that had grown out of that scene and graduated to motorcycles and hotrods. Eventually finding themeselves with the same interests they got together and formed the motorcycle club. At first they tried joining the white motorcycle clubs that were already in existence but were not accepted by them so they started their own. Actually their first war was with a low rider club called Orpheus and they were jealous that the Mongols had moved up continentally on the streets. But history shows that Orpheus no longer exists. Most motorcycle club names are themed around hell and Satan. The Mongols wanted something different so they came up with the fiercest warriors that ruled Russia and China and most of the world for over 500 years. They even considered Aztecs or Mayans but they felt it was little bit too ethnic. I personally feel the name they chose was perfect. Their next battle was with the Hells Angels with whom they wanted to be friends with but were not accepted and the Mongols were being told what they could wear and how they should exist. Maybe the Mongols did insult them by sewing on the California bottom rocker but the Mongols had thier reasons. As far back as I could remember LA EME was always tight allies with the Mongols. They have done favors for each other many of times. You can ask anyone who has been in a Calfornia prison. The Mongols have brothers from up north and down south. They have white brothers too. This was never a problem with the Surenos before. Hell the Mongols are the only guys in the joint that I know that can walk the yard without having to ask permission that's how much love they have from LA EME. Also, for your information, the second in command to Joe Morgan, which was Robot, is brothers with the ex-president of the San Gabriel Chapter Monogls. So this so called problem is a little confusing to some Surenos and even to some older Mongols. But as with the Pepsi generation things have changed with LA EME and now similar types of changes are happening with the Mongols. So if the youngsters would talk to the elders on both sides I'm sure all this oculd be straighten out. Know the facts, the Mongols never had a reputation for taxing people. They've been known to just be a tight brotherhood that live the Chicano biker lifestyle and have one common enemy with all outlaw organiztions, the local authorities and the federal government. For all we know the federal government is creating chaos amongst us through the media to limit our constitutional rights."

There you have it. The straight word from the street without the spin or filters.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The war between the EME and the MONGOLS has apparently been called off due to television. The medium that was once described as a "vast wasteland" may be responsible for saving some lives or at least prevent some bloodshed.

After CHRIS BLATCHFORD broadcast his story on the war between the two groups on FOX 11 NEWS in LA last week, a shot caller concluded that any overt moves would draw an awful lot of attention from LE.

As a result, all SOUTHERN SOLDIERS have been ordered to stand down and wait for further instructions. For now, we have a cease fire. Further updates as they arrive. Stay tuned.
Thanks to a heads up from a regular reader, it's been confirmed that ROBERT "ROBOT" SALAS passed away some three weeks ago in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

We're not sure of the exact cause of death, but we're positive he did not die by the sword. Salas had been out of prison for years and was living in SOCAL in what some sources claim in a state of semi- or full retirement. His passing marks another milestone in the history of the brotherhood.

SALAS, along with other deceased carnals like MIKE "HATCHET MIKE" ISON, BEN "TOPO" PETERS, and JOE "COCOLISO" MORGAN, could be considered part of the OLD GUARD in the organization. They were there at the beginning, or very close to it, when you could count the number of validated brothers on the fingers of both hands.

It's interesting to note that of this group, only ISON died a violent death. He'd been paroled and living in San Francisco, apparently adjusting well to life on the outside, enjoying his freedom and spending time with his family. He got into a brawl with some guys in a bar and was clubbed to death with pool cues. MORGAN and PETERS died of cancer.

More on SALAS as information arrives.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

In response to the previous post on long-ago ties between the brothers and Mexican cartels, I got this email from an anonymous reader. This isn't the first of its kind so maybe it's time to reiterate what this blog is all about. Here's the email with some snipping.

"Your account on the Arujo/Morgan association is right on! Also the part of many parolees being "taken care of when they went PAL. At that time it was almost impossible to get them back to the USA. [Snipped] Do you have anything on the infamous "Shoe War"? The more I read from your articles, I believe you to be an ex-cop with a good source...such as 'Mundo.' -- Tio Moco."

To paraphrase RICHARD NIXON, "I am not a cop." Never was and they'd never have me even if I wanted to.

Yeah, I do have really good sources in and out of law enforcement. But the most important tool is doing the homework. Every scrap of information I've come across in the past decade is stored in a way that I can cross-reference it and retrieve it. You'd be amazed at the stuff you can find in public records archives and through Freedom of Information requests if you know what you're looking for. There's no mystery in putting together information even if you have to wade through heavily redacted documents. All you need is enough information to ask the right guy the right questions. Nobody volunteers anything. But they will respond honestly (most of the time) if you ask a direct question about a specific incident. In time, little bits of info start falling in place and you've got a decent picture to look at. Just plain work, some luck and informed guessing.

As to "Machine Gun Mundo," I only wish I could get a tape recorder in front of the guy. Also Chuco, Enriquez, Gratton, and all the other CIs who have debriefed or are currently debriefing. Having a chat with them would be like grabbing the keys to Fort Knox.

As to the "shoe war," there's not much mystery left in that event. It's been documented in books and court documents, verified by interviews with LE who either ran debriefs or have direct knowledge of debriefs and it's even covered on some web sites. Be alert, however, because a lot of the stuff on line is misleading or flat wrong. But even the wrong info can sometimes lead to the right conclusion. I'll take a shot at it for those who may not be familiar with the shoe incident. Look for it soon.

So Tio, I hope that answers your question. If you have more or want to share some insight, you know where to email. Always happy to hear from interested parties and I'm always ready to be set straight if I get it wrong.

Monday, December 13, 2004

On December 9, 2004, ANDY FURILLO, staff writer at the SACRAMENTO BEE went a little off his usual NORCAL beat and came up with a terrific article about the Eme and its connection to the ARELLANO FELIX drug cartel with a SAN DIEGO dateline. An easy search should bring you to the SAC BEE website and you can read it for yourself. The story adds a big chunk of information to the diligent student's database.

While the story has a lot of threads (a crooked but so far unconvicted CDC prison guard, an aborted prison escape, a barber shop that was a essentially an EME "war room," a planned hit on a San Diego cop etc.) the most enlightening was a hard connection between the brothers and the AF cartel.

If you follow local drug and homicide trials, invariably, there's always some kind of connection between SOUTHERN SOLDIERS and narco dealers south of the border. Local LE has always suspected that deals were being made at a level way above the average street dealer's pay grade. Furillo's story confirms that theory.

Furillo's story echoes a relationship between the brothers and Mexican drug cartels that goes back to the 1970s. At the time, the biggest Mexican supplier and business associate of the Eme was a guy by the name of CHUY ARAUJO. He lived and operated in Mexico and packaged up big loads for delivery to the US. The brothers also sent him parolees or fugitives so they could decompress with some R&R in sunny Mexico. Araujo's main contact was none other than JOE "COCOLISO" MORGAN. He was also called PEGLEG, but never to his face.

ARUAJO and MORGAN were eventually taken out of circulation, but obviously, the connections were reactivated and have flourished. We're probably only becoming aware of the very tip of that iceberg.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The public execution of CHP officer THOMAS STEINER by a POMONA 12th gangster, VALENTINO ARENAS, has become one of those events you can point to, shake your head and grumble, "Look how bad things have gotten." It's had a similar, though more muted impact that the infamous STEPHANIE KUHEN "wrong way" killing in 1995 in Highland Park. That one even got the attention of PRESIDENT CLINTON and prompted him to try to put an extra 100,000 cops on the nation's streets. The tenth anniversary of the Kuhen killing is coming up next year and it would be an interesting idea for one of LA's major media outlets to revisit that crime and check out the changes that have happened in that neighborhood in the last ten years. And there have been a lot.

Cop killing isn't new. Criminals have been shooting and killing cops for generations and it probably reached its zenith during the age of the Hudson Terraplane and the Tommy gun -- the two pieces of equipment favored by the likes of the Barrow gang, Dillinger and assorted rum runners and mobsters.

The two things that make cop killing different in the modern world are the age of the shooter and the motivation. In the era before inter-jurisdictional radio nets like CLEMARS and helicopters, you didn't earn stripes by killing a cop. You earned stripes the old fashioned way, by having the balls to rob banks where guards could shoot back. And you stuck up stores at a time when every grocery clerk had a sawed-off 12 gauge behind the counter. In some parts of the country, as we saw last week, the clerks still shoot back. One of the reasons for the popularity of franchised gas station and grocery stores as targets for robbery is that the franchisee is forbidden by contract to arm the clerks. It's a basically a written guarantee to criminals that the victim will be unarmed and helpless.

The 16-year-old who executed Officer Steiner outside the Pomona Court House admitted to LE that he shot Steiner to earn stripes from P12. It may have impressed the pee wees and tinys in the neighborhood, but the veteranos are not pleased. It was a bullshit shooting that had nothing to do with business. And it's now drawn the sort of heat that can make business a lot harder to conduct. That's the irony in this case. Instead of elevating his status, this young shooter will forever be stigmatized as a wild hot head by the very people he tried to impress. Hot heads are bad for the organization and many have been put on the lista, even after years of loyal service. Arenas may not even be useful for carrying out prison hits or any sort of high level work. After all, he rolled over and spilled his water the minute he was taken into custody. In short, an unreliable soldado who may not even be eligible for schooling. An outcast even among criminals.

Arenas pleaded guilty on December 6 and will be sentenced in January. Because of his age, he's not eligible for the death penalty.

Monday, December 06, 2004

It seems that we periodically have to cover this issue whether we want to or not. Like going to the dentist, it seems unavoidable. The topic in question is this: Do the brothers ever give anybody a pass to leave the Mob without any repercussions?

This post is prompted by a series of emails from curious individuals and by someone who seems to have some rather privileged knowledge. For the sake of protecting identities I'm quoting from the email but snipping out self-identifiers. This is the emailer's quote.

"Wally, again, you made the mistake about "Conejo's" book, "Blood In, Blood Out." This book has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. [text snipped here]. I agree that if one is to buy into the Blood In Blood Out doctrine, then those "preachers" from Victory Outreach would be dead. Could it be that there is something out there a foot that "we" do not have the real story as yet?"

First off, I don't recall saying that ART "CONEJO" BLAJOS' book, BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT ever had the slightest resemblance to the movie -- BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT: BOUND BY HONOR. It was originally released with that title but the current video boxes put BOUND BY HONOR up top and use B.I.B.O. as the sub. You can rent the movie anywhere. Getting a copy of Blajos' book to do your own comparison, on the other hand, will set you back some serious money. It's been out of print for years and even Amazon can't seem to find used copies.

To begin with, let's turn our textbooks to the Eme commandments. As outlined in a variety of sources, including unpublished manuscripts of dropouts, court testimony of snitches, confidential informants and from LE gang intelligence here's the law of the Black Hand as laid out by HUERO BUFF FLORES, EDDIE LOERA, JESUS PEDROSA, ALEJANDRO LECHUGA and others back in 1957. I paraphrase the original wording.

• To join, you have to be sponsored by an active member.
• You have to be approved by at least three active members. In the old days, all members in a prison had to vote you in. Now with over 600 members all over the state, the requirement is down to three.
• The only way out of the Eme is death.
• The Eme comes first, before family and friends.
• No homosexual activity. Ever. Anyplace, anytime. No excuses.
• No politicking. That means you don't undermine another brother's operations or badmouth him to other brothers or the outside.
• Admitting the existence of the Eme to law enforcement or anyone not a member is punishable by death. Admitting membership is on a need to know basis. Your homies in the neighborhood, for instance.
• Don't show fear or weakness.
• Orders from brothers have to be obeyed regardless of the personal risk to the person being ordered. That means if you're in a position to hit somebody that the brothers want hit, failure to act will demonstrate weakness and violate the above law.
• If a member goes bad, it will reflect badly on his sponsor. That means the sponsor will have to clean up the books himself. Or else.

There are other regulations regarding drug addiction, paperwork, ethnic purity and others, but these are the important ones.

With regard to Art Blajos' book, he violates all the big ones. He admits to having been made. He admits the existence of the organization to the world. By his own admission, he failed to carry out a hit on direct orders. And, of course, he walked away quite alive and well.

At the end of his book, Blajos tells the tale of being redeemed by Jesus and by the counseling of Victory Outreach pastors. While on the road to becoming a pastor himself, Blajos was working at a car wash when a big Cadillac he recognized pulled up and a window rolled down. He knew the people inside and he was ready to take a bullet. But nothing happened. The car rolled off without a word. A week later he got another visit and this time the caller said, "Be for real." Blajos concluded that the Eme gave him a pass and would not greenlight him unless his conversion proved not to be genuine. Blajos doesn't specify what year this happened, but the book was published in 1996. So we assume it was a few years before that.

By 1995, the LOS ANGELES METROPOLITAN TASK FORCE ON VIOLENT CRIME was in full operation. ERNIE CASTRO, a full-blown carnal, had flipped and was wearing a wire. Shot callers were meeting regularly in a motel room which was wired for video and sound. At one of these motel meetings, RANDY "COWBOY" THERRIEN was discussing the status of DONALD "BIG D" GARCIA with ALEX "PEE WEE" AGUIRRE, CASTRO and other brothers. Garcia was an Eme member who, by his own admission in an LA TIMES article, failed to complete an order to hit another inmate while in jail. Like Blajos, Garcia dropped out and found god. Therrien said this on tape about Garcia's conversion: "People think that's the back door out of the Eme. There ain't no back door. You guys turn on us, pick up the Bible, I'm going to look for you." At the same meeting, a vote was taken to kill Garcia. Interestingly, no one was ordered to do the hit. The only opinion one can form about this is that it was a low priority greenlight, apparently to be fulfilled if and when the opportunity arose. Garcia remains unmolested and free to preach.

Other dropouts don't get anything like a pass. Even if they haven't debriefed and just want out, the greenlight goes on and they become free-fire zones.

So on one side of the equation you've got dropouts who apparently have a pass because of their religion. On the other, you've got the commandments according to HUERO BUFF FLORES, co-founder of the brotherhood.

Looking at both sides of this, you can form your own opinion about the back door out of the brotherhood. But there are a few things to think about while formulating an opinion. If there is a back door then the Commandments need to be rewritten. Or at least footnoted. Being in for life is a powerful tool for maintaining commitment and cohesion. Modifying it makes the organization appear somewhat less than totally serious about what it demands from its members.

If there is no back door, then there may be other factors in play that, as my reader says, "we do not have the real story as yet."
Fightin' words exchanged between rival neighborhoods in chat rooms is nothing new. It's been happening since the beginning of the net. But we now have the first documented case of hostile internet words leading to a homicide. At least this is the first we know of.

Two LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA neighborhoods, SUR 13 and MAKIN LIFE KRAZY (MLK), have been beefing in chat rooms for some time. On November 29, an SUV with SUR 13 homies and an 18th STREET soldado rolled up on MLKs and cut loose. An MLK homie, RICARDO "SILENT" ANDRES, who was all of 14 years old, died from 9mm rounds in the head and chest. A 9-year-old and a 17-year-old were wounded but will survive. Both backed up MLK. Although how much backup a 9-year-old can provide is questionable. The lone shooter was 23-year-old MIGUEL LEMU-FLORES, the 18th Streeter. He's now in the wind.

To the tutored eye, MLK sounds more like a tagging crew than a full-on neighborhood, but then again, we don't know all that much about the evolving neighborhood culture on the other side of the continent.

Friday, December 03, 2004

What began as a trickle of neighborhoods expanding out of Los Angeles has become something of a flood that now reaches from ocean to ocean. It started logically enough with colonies in Nevada and Arizona. And as posted here, there's a growing presence in places like Idaho and Utah. The wave has apparently hit the East Coast with enough force that two congressmen have written a bill to build some flood control measures.

Rep. FRANK R. WOLF and Rep. THOMAS M. DAVIS, both Virginia Republicans have gotten Congress to approves $48.6 million for regional law enforcement task forces (mostly in Virginia) and to create an FBI NATIONAL GANG INTELLIGENCE CENTER. The FBI Center will cost $10 million and will put up to 80 agents and analysts to work monitoring interstate gang activity. It's no accident that the bill's authors are from Virginia. In the past few years, that state has had a significant spike in gang activity and some celebrated gang murders, the kind we see almost every day in LA but rare for Virginia. So rare that the County Mounties had to send faxes and jpegs to their brother cops on the West Coast to figure out what all the placasos and the tattoos meant.

It's interesting that it only took a handful of homicides in Virginia to energize their congressmen to take some big measures. California's gang homicides, probably the highest in the country, have apparently never prompted our congresspeople to do anything quite this ambitious. We've built a lot of jails, of course, we've got the Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Crime (yeah it's still operational and run out the Federal building on Sepulveda and the 405) and we've got some savvy gang cops, but for some reason, State LE and politicians never took that ultimate step to feed all that information into an FBI database and share it with the rest of the country.

The lag time between appropriating the money and going operational could go on for months, if not years. So West Coast homies planning flag-raising missions to the East have a fairly big window of opportunity before the BIG EYE of the Federales is upon you.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A large number of LA readers have emailed asking if I saw CHRIS BLATCHFORD'S two-part story on the battle between the Mongols and the Eme on FOX 11 NEWS. Yes I did. A number of these emailers asked me what I thought about the story. I'm pleased that the inthehat audience is as interested in the subject and as eager to learn as I am. While I consider myself more of an ardent student than an expert, I'm rather humbled to be asked my opinion on this situation.

First off, Blatchford did a very good job. I'm also amazed that FOX 11 gave him him enough air time to tell the story as thoroughly as he did. While I don't know Blatchford, from his past coverage of criminal organizations and crime issues, I get the sense he's extremely dialed in and has terrific sources. He seems to have more than an academic interest in the subject.

For out of town readers, here's the outline. The Mongols is a motorcycle gang based in SOCAL with chapters all over the country. They're the Un-Cola, a slightly different flavor for people who don't like the taste of the original -- Hell's Angels. As the world witnessed in LAUGHLIN, NEVADA two years ago, the Angels and Mongols get along about as well as the Palestinians and the Israelis. The Laughlin battle put three soldiers in the cemetery and a bunch more in the hospital.

While the Angels have predominantly been a white group, the Mongols have an open enrollment policy that offers membership to Hispanics. According to the FOX 11 piece, (and it seems to line up pretty well with what I found out) the Mongols have been heavily recruiting among SOCAL neighborhoods. Essentially, a lot of the new members are SURENOS with their cultural roots deep in the neighborhoods. Rather than seeing themselves as traditional outlaw bikers and iron horse iconoclasts, these new members could be better described as Leather Homies. In fact, as the FOX 11 story reported, some of these new members don't own bikes and don't even know how to ride.

When they put on the leathers, they didn't necessarily divest themselves of certain "allegiances" and cultural modalities. They took the Sureno culture with them. So they basically fly both flags -- the screaming skull and the black hand. There's a saying about a house divided against itself.

What probably happened, and this is speculation, is that once there was a critical mass of Sureno membership within the Mongol organization, the brothers perceived the entire organization as merely another set in the larger Sureno universe. And as Surenos, the natural order of things is that they should get in line with the rest and begin to pay tribute.

Apparently, it hasn't worked out that way. The Mongols have officially refused to pay taxes. In response, the Eme issued one of its famous greenlights on the Mongols.

Bodies have fallen on both sides and it looks like a low intensity shooting war has broken out.

The truth is, the Mongols didn't pick this fight. It looks like the fight came to them. Just as it came to MS, Maravilla and other tax-resister gangs.

If this was a horse race, the smart money would be on the Brothers. In terms of sheer numbers, organization, intelligence gathering and horsepower in prison, the Brothers are in complete control. Any Sureno with a strap and some heart is now free to pop a Mongol anywhere, anytime and be assured of earning a stripe. SOCAL Mongol membership right now is reported to be around 200. When you consider that a single Sureno neighborhood like Avenues can muster 800 men at arms, 600 for El Sereno, and equally large numbers in neighborhoods like Florencia, CVTF, VNE, RSP, San Fer, Pacas -- well, you get the idea. Think of a sledgehammer hitting a flea.

This is not to imply that Mongols don't have heart and aren't willing to get grimy. But the numbers facing the Mongols are just staggering.

Will discretion be the better part of valor? We'll see.
No doubt, almost everybody with a TV set has seen the stabbing and fight that broke out at the VIBE awards two weeks ago. As usual, the media did a lousy job of telling you exactly what happened. Here's the deal from a guy who was there.

There was a lot of security that night, both private and uniformed LAPD. The private security had been ordered to keep Suge Knight out of the venue if he appeared. The reason to keep Knight out was because DR. DRE was getting a lifetime achievement award and knowing the history of bad blood between him and Knight, nobody wanted a confrontation.

When Knight showed up, the private security people told Knight that he wouldn't be allowed in. Knight pressed the issue. He wanted in and nobody had a right to stop him. On their radios, the security detail asked for confirmation that Knight was not to be admitted. Somebody in charge had a change of heart and told them to let Knight in even though he had no invitation. Big mistake. Suge and his entourage took a table about 20 feet from Dre's table at which time Suge proceeded to mad dog Dre for most of the evening.

Just before the fight broke out, Suge got up, went to the back of the room and took a position right next to an LAPD copper. Apparently, this was the signal for the "autograph seeker" JAMES JOHNSON, to approach Dre. Instead of producing an autograph book, Johnson wound up and punched Dre in the face twice. Knight, of course, had himself the world's best alibi because he was way across the room next to a cop when the fists started flying. Just an innocent bystander. Suge is on parole and can't afford another beef.

That's when hell broke loose. The puncher was swarmed by Dre defenders, including YOUNG BUCK who proceeded to stab the puncher. Knight cohorts jumped in to save him from the crowd, private security jumped in to separate the parties and the LAPD dragged non-involved attendees out of the room and proceeded to lock the doors.

The stabbing could have been avoided if the VIBE organizers had installed metal detectors. Apparently, there weren't any. Maybe next time. Or maybe they should have separate VIBE awards. One for FRIENDS OF SUGE and one for everybody else.

Dre is going ahead with an assault case against Johnson. Johnson is being represented by Knight's lawyer. The DA will probably go after Young Buck for the stabbing. Knight's lawyer is saying that Knight and Johnson have no association with each other. Right.

The AP is carrying a story right now that law enforcement is looking at videotape of the event to determine if Knight was involved in the fight. They won't find a single thing on that tape to implicate Knight. He was way across the room standing next to a uniformed cop. Case closed. Knight skates. Next time, naked VIBE awards in a big padded room with fire hoses at the ready.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

On November 21, 2004, the LA Times ran a story on the way street taxes were collected and funneled to the prison accounts of Eme brothers. On the street it's called "kicking up" and the practice has been going on for decades.

Just to give you some background, prisoners are permitted to have a bank account that they can use to buy goods sold in the prison store. Prisoners aren't allowed to have cash so the goods are often used to barter for anything from smuggled heroin to brand new "whites" from the prison laundry, extra food from the kitchen staff and even "maid service" from other prisoners.

The other thing they can do with their prison accounts is send out checks to family and friends on the outside. Of course, they also send out checks through third parties to associates on the outside who use the money to buy drugs, guns and hits. The profits from the drug sales are then sent back to the prisoner's account. Basically, shot callers can still run neighborhood business from prison.

Some of the brothers run hundreds of thousands of dollars through their prison accounts. According to CDC regulations, anyone from the outside can send a prisoner a money order or cashiers check for any ammount and put it into the prisoner's account. There's no routine investigation of who sends the money or the original source of the money.

It's a system that for the most part, improves the lives of the average inmate by providing some of the luxuries that make prison life less harsh. It's also a system wide open to exploitation and abuse by the shot callers.

The LA Times piece on this issue comes on the heels of a similar, but far better researched one that appeared in the Sacramento Bee written by Andy Furillo on October 17, 2004. Furillo provided deeper insight and greater context than the Times piece. On the whole, Furillo's crime and gang pieces are way more informative that the ones that appear in the Times. Read both pieces and judge for yourself.

While these stories are important and worth covering, the fact is, this situation has existed for decades. Just to provide some historical context and give you a sense of how long this has been going on, you can go all the way back to the 1970s and George Jackson.

After Jackson's prison book, SOLEDAD BROTHERS was published with the legal and significant editorial help of prison rights activist Fay Stender, Jackson found himself in control of hundred of thousands of dollars. The money was sent to the SOLEDAD BROTHERS DEFENSE FUND supposedly to help Jackson defend himself in his murder case for killing prison guard JOHN MILLS. Some of the money was used for that purpose. A lot more of it was used to buy guns, explosives, cars and rural property in the Norcal mountains. The property was used as a guerilla training camp and bomb factory for groups ranging from the Black Panthers to the Weather Underground. The land was also a killing ground for suspected Panther snitches and enemies of the Revolution. Several university professors were used as the front men to buy the property.

In more recent times, FRANCISCO "Pancho Villa," "Puppet" MARTINEZ ran a huge drug/tax operation from prison. When the FBI raided his wife's house in Monterey Park in 2002, they grabbed $450,000 in cash. Martinez' gang, the COLUMBIA LI'L CYCOS, was netting $85,000 per week in taxes and drug money. Martinez controlled the cash flow and drug business from his jail cell, using the prison bank account system for some of the laundering and pay offs to neighborhood homies.

Charles Carbone, a prisoner rights advocate, was quoted in both the LA Times and Sacramento Bee articles. In the Bee piece he says, "The Department (the CDC) is hypersensitive and somewhat paranoid when it comes to any innocuous communication or transfer of money between inmates." He also claimed that the Eme has undergone what he called a schism in recent years and "is not the threat it once was."

What's significant about Carbone's comment is that this is the first time I've ever heard a defense attorney or a prisoner rights activist admit to the existence of the Mexican Mafia. In virtually every court case I've attended or gotten testimony on, the first defense objection is that there's no such thing as the Eme. And therefore the crimes the defendants are accused of are not part of a criminal conspiracy.

In the famous US vs. AGUIRRE et al RICO case in 1995, defense attorney ELLEN BARRY claimed that the 13 EME meetings video recorded by the FBI in a ROSEMEAD motel room were nothing more than paroled prisoners forming an ad hoc "support group" to help each other adjust to life on the street. This is a sentiment that echoes the famous Italian Mafia Congressional hearings in the 50s when capo after capo sat in front of the panel and claimed there was no such thing as LA COSA NOSTRA. They were just legitimate businessmen unfairly stigmatized because they were all Italians.

As to the relative strength or weakness of the Eme compared to the past, Carbone is dead wrong. There are more brothers now than there have ever been. And despite some high level dropouts and high profile federal prosecutions, business is good and expanding into virgin territories. Look at it this way. The worst that can happen to a shot caller is to be locked up in prison. But as both articles point out, being in prison doesn't mean you're out of the business. It just means you're running the local branch from the head office.
There's a follow-up on my previous post about the Mexico City torching of two federal agents. As reported on the AP wire, two of the 29 people arrested for killing the federales are local Mexico City cops. This probably means that the local cops knew for sure that the men in the car were cops and not suspected child abductors. The AP story went on to say that there's been a long smoldering feud between federal and local cops throughout Mexico over collars and jurisdiction. I'd venture to say the feud also extends to disputes over lucrative payoffs from drug dealers and gangsters. It's happened before.

Friday, November 26, 2004

As if to underscore my Nov. 22 post about Mexico's lack of cooperation in sending wanted fugitives back to the U.S., the local and national media have covered an unbelievable story coming out of Mexico City. It appears three undercover Mexican federal cops were staking out some drug dealers in Tlahuac, a suburb of Mexico City.

The local citizens mistakenly thought that the three cops sitting in an unmarked car with binoculars and a video camera were child abductors. The word went out through the neighborhood and 2,000 residents descended on the three cops. The cops were beaten and two of them were doused with gasoline and burned to death. The third cop was rescued by some 300 riot cops who responded to the radio call for help. All three cops might have been saved if it hadn't taken the riot cops 3 hours and 35 minutes to respond. The arriving cops said that heavy traffic kept them from responding sooner. Nice try. You have to wonder how reporters and news crews got there hours before the cops and broadcast the incident live on national TV.

The responding LEOs arrested some 22 residents after spending all night sweeping house to house looking for suspects.

This Fallujah-like torching illustrates how deeply the average Mexican citizen distrusts law enforcement and feels completely powerless in the face of rampant lawlessness. After decades of gangsters, drug dealers, murderers, child molesters and corrupt officials skating on charges after paying off cops, judges and politicians, otherwise law abiding Mexicans feel they have no alternative than to administer some vigilante justice. They don't trust the government to keep them safe.

Given this level of police incompetence it's not a stretch to imagine how easy it would be for hard-core Islamists to smuggle a radiological or biological device into Mexico and across the tissue-thin U.S. border. As some far-sighted national security experts warned years before 9/11/01, "Not if, but when."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A reader asked if there has ever been a connection between the Mexican Mafia and the Italian Mafia. The short answer is, yes. The closest tie I'm aware of involved the late JOE MORGAN, widely regarded as the GODFATHER of the Eme and an Italian mobster named JIMMY COPPOLA. Coppola was reputed to be tight with CARLO GAMBINO, the New York mobster whose family eventually came under the flag of JOHNNY BOY GOTTI.

Morgan and Coppola had some dealings in the heroin business, the exact nature and extent of which is unknown to me. From the sketchy, but so far reliable information I have, Morgan had a heroin pipeline to Mexico and was bringing it across the border in RVs piloted not by homies but by otherwise innocent looking vacationers. Coppola went in on some of the heroin deals.

What prevented this long-ago coperation from blossoming into a full-fledged alliance was the difference in style and culture between the Italians and the Mexicans. While both did business employing the accepted tools of murder, violence and intimidation, the Italians came to see the Mexicans as being too high profile and lacking in the sort of discipline that made the Italians into a criminal empire.

The Italians have traditionally tried to move through society as average citizens. No tattoos, no shaved heads and no standard uniform of the day. In short, nothing to raise suspicion. Even low-level Wise Guys just making their bones look like any other guy getting on the subway in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn or Bayside, Queens. The crew bosses and capos, in three-piece suits and alligator shoes, looked like prosperous lawyers and businessmen.

The same can't be said for the Hispanics. They fly the gangster flag proudly and don't seem to care that even to an untrained eye, the clothes, tattoos and attitude just scream SUSPECT.

The differences go beyond appearance and extend to organizational and operational structures.

The Eme was founded on the principle that there would never be leaders. It was and remains an orqanization of equals. One man, one vote. A true democracy perhaps, but as its history has shown, it often leads to chaos and personal agendas that undermine the growth of the organization as a cohesive group.

In LA COSA NOSTRA, the org chart is rigid. There's the national council, the family heads, capos, crew chiefs and soldiers. Areas of operation as clearly defined and transgressions, as we've seen in countless movies, are settled by meetings. The result -- murder -- is often the same, but the means of getting there are different and they're harder for law enforcement to decode and make sense of.

Unless there's a major change in the way these entities do business, the connections will probably never develop into anything significant.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

We recently got an email question that's probably on the minds of many inthehat readers. It has to do with homies leaving behind their street beefs once they land in prison. Why is it, for example, that members of rival neighborhoods with long and bloody feuds, call a cease fire once they land in la pinta?

To answer that adequately, we have to first come to some understanding of who and what we're talking about with regards to sets, set loyalty within the larger structure of prison gangs and, of course, race.

The situation on the streets is uncontrolled chaos. You've got set rivalries within and outside racial gangs. You've got black on black, brown on brown, asian on asian and to a lesser degree, white on white. And then of course you've got all the possible combinations and permutations of the above. You've got decades-long feuds, for instance, between Hispanic Compton sets and Black Compton sets. Same goes in every other part of the city and county. And you've got Hispanic neighborhoods like The Mob Crew constantly at war with other Hispanic neighborhoods like T-Flats and Cuatro Flats.

You also have to keep in mind the various tax-free, resistance neighborhoods like MS which is always verde on the Eme books, and the occasional Maravilla crews that are sometimes in the hat and sometimes not.

What a homie does in prison will ultimately depend on what he did on the outside and who he cliqued up with.

If you're from LOWELL let's say and you've had one of your homies lit up by AVENIDAS over something that was strictly business, you've got to pretty much drop the beef when you land in prison. There are several reasons for you to not to want some get even -- at least while in the joint and under direct control of the brothers.

Regardless of how tough you are, you're going to need friends and backup in prison. Few are those that can survive in prison completely alone. Without some kind of backup, you're just fish on the line and prey to every convict who wants your property.

The brothers don't want you wantonly assaulting other Hispanics, even for good cause while on the street, because it causes dissension in the ranks. And dissension leads to fragmentation and to a loss of power. If set beefs go unchecked, instead of having let's say 100 Surenos who go with the Eme program, you've now got 10 different cliques with 10 people each beefing with each other. Having that many sets feuding just means fewer soldiers in the ranks. To use a military analogy, other groups, especially the NF, can now divide and conquer and take out one set at a time until there's no one left to oppose them. Ultimately, it's in your best interest to check the vendetta at the gate and go with the program for the simple reason that you need the brothers and the protection they provide.

This is not to say that once you put your revenge aside, everything is rosy. To use another military analogy, the Eme is like the US Marine Corps: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. It operates under a completely different code of ethics, of course, but the motto applies nonetheless.

If you toe the Eme line, do what you're told, don't politic, and back up Surenos against other prison gangs, you can count on some measure of protection. If you buck the system and start taking out Surenos without permission because of something that happened on the street, then it may be greenlight time. There are always exceptions, of course. But for the most part, it's in your best interest to let the past go until you're back on the street.

On the other hand, non-Surenos and long-time Eme enemies are free-fire zones. Taking care of a few of those will earn you points with the brothers and maybe an invitation to join.

Of all the prison gangs, the Eme and NF are the best organized and clearly dominate the prison system. There is no comparable Black, Asian or White gangs either in terms of numbers or in the amount of power they wield in the prisons or can project to the streets. And none of them have the intelligence and information network of the brothers. So basically, if you're from a Sureno neighborhood you really don't have much choice other than to mob up. If you want to survive, that is.
RED ROUNTREE died yesterday two months short of his 93rd birthday. He died in the Federal pen in Springfield, MO where he was serving a 12.5 year term for bank robbery. What makes Rountree unique is that he didn't start robbing banks until he was in his eighties. Up to that time, he'd been living a crime-free life. You can just imagine poor old Red beating a hasty retreat with his walker and oxygen bottle and a dye pack billowing green smoke behind him. Apparently, he didn't need the money. He robbed banks because he said it made him fell "good, awful good." I guess it beats watching the soaps and playing shuffleboard at the rest home.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Local readers may already know all about the escape hatch provided to criminals by the Mexican Government. International readers on the other hand, (we seem to be popular overseas) are probably not aware that Mexico has dug in its heels and refuses to extradite US fugitives wanted on a variety crimes, including murder.

At one time, Mexico refused to extradite fugitives who were facing a possible death sentence in US courts. Mexico has no death penalty and it believes the US shouldn't have one either. But then, Mexican politicians went one step further and refused to extradite fugitives who were looking at a possible life sentence in the US. Apparently, Mexico doesn't believe in life without parole (LWOP) either.

As a result, Mexico is now home to some 3,000 wanted US fugitives. Despite political efforts at the national level, Mexico isn't giving them up. Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley, decided to put some grass roots pressure on Vicente Fox and the dubious Mexican criminal justices system by launching a website -- It covers a number of the more celebrated and heinous cases.

Mexico is neither a model of prisoner rights or of proactive, corruption-free law enforcement. Local and regional Mexican cops, despite some straight-up heroes, can be bought. The heroic cops are usually either killed or driven out of the force. And a few media heroes who took a shot at corruption in print were assassinated.

The average Mexican citizen, caught between official corruption and rampant crime, has frankly had enough. Earlier this year, over 100,000 citizens marched in Mexico City demanding better police protection and aggressive prosecution of murderers and kidnappers. Buying off judges and prosecutors is commonplace. It's the elephant in the living room that nobody wants to acknowledge.

Check out the website and you'll get a sense of the scope of the situation as well as the personal stories of the survivors.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Last week, the PRISON LAW OFFICE got the CALIFORNIA YOUTH AUTHORITY to sign a consent decree to change the way the CYA handles its wards. In the recent past, there have been reports of abuse, inadequate supervision, beatings and two suicides that could have been prevented. For more insight on the CYA, its troubles and its successes I can refer you to an excellent blog -- It's run by an ex-offender who turned his life around decades ago and went on to become a college professor. Good stuff and worth your time.

The CYA consent decree articles have run in all the usual media -- LA Times, LA Daily News, Fresno Bee, and Sacramento Bee. You can read them on their sites.

The suit was filed by the Prison Law Office on behalf of MARGARET FARRELL, the aunt of a CYA ward who was locked down in solitary for months and fed "blender meals," a vile concoction that's as tasty as it sounds. A whole meal is put in a blender and fed to the ward. This is intolerable.

What the usual media didn't mention is that this Margaret Farrell is the same woman who was indicted by the US Attorney in Los Angeles in 1999 in a RICO case along with some 40 other individuals. Those individuals included legendary Eme carnal BEN "TOPO" PETERS, Peters' wife SALLY and other associates and brothers.

Farrell was charged with passing messages from locked up homies and shot callers to Southern Soldiers on the street. The indictment claimed that at least one of the messages passed by Farrell resulted in a homicide. The charges against her were ultimately dropped. It's unclear whether a deal was struck or what.

For crime history fans, there are interesting connections here. For one, the Prison Law Office has its roots in the Sixties. It began as the PRISON LAW PROJECT and was created as a prisoner advocate organization by another legend in the annals of crime and justice -- FAY STENDER. Stender was a lawyer who took on the case of GEORGE JACKSON, the BLACK PANTHER field Marshal, and that of the SOLEDAD BROTHERS. You regular readers already know that JACKSON started the BLACK GUERILLA FAMILY in the '70s, a prison gang that exists to this day and has spawned other black prison gangs and splinter groups.

According to the literature, JACKSON had asked Stender to smuggle him a gun into SAN QUENTIN. His plan was to escape, make his way to Angola, build a revolutionary army, invade the U.S. with it and bring down the "system." He was nothing if not ambitious. Not to mention delusional.

Stender, though dedicated to THE CAUSE, was no idiot. She refused to get him a gun. And she began to distance herself from the prison and revolutionary movement. Eventually, she was paid a visit one night by persons unknown, but apparently known to her, and shot five times. She survived but was paralyzed from the waist down. Fearing for her life from the Panthers, she moved to Europe. Broken and disillusioned she eventually committed suicide.

Other connections. EDWARD BUNKER tells a story about Fay Stender at then time he was housed at San Quentin. One of Bunker's crimies, a white guy, was also represented by Stender. He told Bunker that Stender wanted to know why the white inmates weren't assaulting and killing prison guards like the blacks. There had been dozens of serious assaults and a half dozen prison guard killings at the time and Stender wanted that increased and she wanted the white inmates to step up and take some action like JACKSON and the PANTHERS were doing. Bunker, as did most white and Hispanic inmates in Quentin, considered her a Marxist loony who didn't care how many guards, or inmates, were killed as long as the "movement" continued to stir up agitation.

A significant branch of these connections leads to STEVE BINGHAM, a lawyer who ran in Fay Stender's circles. He was accused of smuggling the gun to GEORGE JACKSON, the ultimate step of committment to the cause that Stender refused to do, triggering the bloodbath that resulted in the death of San Quentin guards and a couple of inmates, not to mention Jackson's death from two rounds fired by a gun guard. Bingham obtained phony travel documents through his friends in the San Francisco undergound and lived in Europe for 13 years as a fugitive. He came back to face the music and was found not guilty of the gun smuggling charge.

Yet another connection leads to ANGELA DAVIS, the one-time revolutionary. A year before George Jackson's failed escape attempt with the gun Bingham smuggled in, JONATHAN JACKSON, George's younger brother, tried to bust out some of George's homies. The place was the Marin county Courthouse. These were the days before metal detectors and pat downs in all city buildings.

Three of George's crimies were on trial in Judge Harold Haley's court. Jonathan Jackson came into the courtroom carrying a satchel full of guns, one of which was a .30 cal M1 carbine. He flashes the carbine, disarms the bailiffs and hands out the guns to defendants RUCHELL McGEE, JAMES McCLAIN and WILLIAM CHRISTMAS, all associates of George Jackson. They took the Judge, the prosecutor and three female jurors hostage and walked out of the courthouse. There was a shootout in the parking lot and only the female jurors, the prosecutor and Ruchell McGee survived. Judge Haley had his head taken almost completely off by the shotgun that Jackson had taped and wired around his neck. The prosecutor was paralyzed by a round in his spine. The carbine and ammunition Jonathan Jackson used in the breakout attempt was purchased by Angela Davis at a San Franciso sporting goods store. She became a fugitive for a while but they name things in Universities after her now.

There are further connections that extend like a root system from the PRISON LAW PROJECT and George Jackson to the Eme, and include such disparate names as Bruce Dern, Tom Hayden, Candace Bergen, Robert Scheer, Mundo Mendoza and a wild cast of characters and events that would make a pretty good epic novel. Or film.

What's the point of all this? Just that it pays to know your history if you're going to read the paper or watch a news show with any kind of critical mind. Or read a blog for that matter. Nothing exists in a vacuum. It's been said that what we see in the news is a snapshot in time. I prefer to think of it as a couple of frames from a reel of film. And the reel is big and goes back a long, long way. I'm just trying to run you some frames from an earlier screening. Enjoy the show and watch for coming attractions.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

One of the reasons the LA Times may be losing circulation is that they keep running stories like the one that appears in this Sunday's (11/21/04) magazine section. It carries SARA CATANIA's byline, and it's titled THE LOVE COURT. The court in question is the Compton branch and Catania's woolgathering makes you wonder if she's ever been in any of LA County's courthouses.

The Compton branch is one of the busiest courts in the county with more than its share of murder, assault, drug and gang cases. Catania's point in this puzzling piece is that the Compton court has a "less-celebrated reputation -- one of tolerance, humor and humanity." The evidence she uses to prop up this argument is that a lot of the people that work there have developed a sense of community, the bailiffs make small talk with public defenders about family problems, idiosyncratic behavior is tolerated and humor sometimes breaks out in a murder proceeding. Absolutely none of this makes Compton unique in the LA County court system. People have been known to act like people in every court in the county. And to a greater or lesser degree, they do so in every court in the country. THE LOVE COURT makes you wonder how much time Catania has actually spent in court.

For instance, I've seen a defense attorney asking a DA if he could help him find the guys that broke into his house. I've seen a judge talk to a defendant about the judge's college football career like a couple of sports fans who had nothing more between them than a shared passion for the pigskin. I've seen a bailiff chatting amiably with a multiple murder defendant about the Knicks. I've had a detective ask me to do him a favor and run down the street to get a confidential witness a favorite meal that the courthouse cafeteria didn't carry. I've seen a defendant's uncle ask a coroner's forensic expert advice about a back problem. And I've seen a super macho DA break down sobbing after talking to a murder victim's sister prior to her taking the stand. This guy had been on the job for 30 years and, surprise, he was still a human being who cared about the victims and the survivors. Hang around a courthouse, any courthouse, long enough and you see it all.

In terms of people acting humanely and even cracking wise in the midst of a blood curdling murder trial is not unique to Compton. What is unique to Compton is the high percentage of hung juries and not-guilty verdicts. A prosecutor told me that it's hard to find a juror who doesn't have some sort of connection to a street gang or a convicted felon. Which may be the reason that the subhead in Catania's piece states that "the public defenders love the juries." Prospective jurors lie about their connections to criminals during voir dire and there's no way on earth that a prosecutor can check the background of every single juror. Occasionally a prosecutor will get lucky and a gang cop in court to testify as an IO or expert witness will spot a gangster's uncle, sister, cousin or girlfriend sitting in the jury box. Which may the reason that Steve Kay, the DA in Compton, is quoted that working there is "siege-like," and "Fort Apache: The Bronx."

The only thing I've ever seen in Compton court that I've never seeen anywhere else was a case of defense misconduct that by all rights should have resulted in the public defender losing her license. This was a case involving a COMPTON VARRIO TORTILLA FLATS gang member facing a murder charge. This guy had CVTF tattooed on the knuckles of his hands, one letter to each knuckle. Just like the L O V E and H A T E tattoos Robert Mitchum had on his knuckles in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. This TF homie rolled up on two black men sitting in a car, pulled out a gun, stuck the gun through the car window and started blasting. He killed the driver and severely wounded the passenger.

The passenger was in court to testify. From the discovery, the defense attorney knew that the witness would ID the shooter because he saw the CVTF tattoos three inches from his face. So before the morning session starts, the defense attorney goes into the lockup to see her client and she brings along some makeup. She applies the makeup to her client's knuckles and covers up the tattoos.

The session starts and the prosecutor looks over at the defendant and realizes that the tattoos are gone. He asks the judge to ask the defendant to show his hands. The man refuses. The judge makes a bailiff wipe the makeup off the knuckles to reveal the CVTF tattoos.

The jury is sent out of the courtroom and the female defense attorney starts bawling like a baby, pleading for the judge not to throw her off the case and not to hold it against her client. The judge reams her a new one but surprisingly, does not take the next step to have her license yanked. In fact, she went on to greater things and is now a supervisor in the public defender's office.

That's a story unique to Compton. For some reason, Catania didn't mention it in her piece. Probably because it doesn't fit her idea of a LOVE COURT.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

There's a case going through the system right now involving a brother from SAN FER. I'm posting it because it illustrates some truths about life in the neighborhoods and as a tale of caution to EME pretenders. I won't mention names because the case hasn't even gotten to the prelim stage and I don't want to be poisoning a jury pool or making assertions that have yet to be proven in court.

Let's call the Brother Bobby. He's been validated and a bona fide shot caller in the North End of the San Fernando Valley. Bobby got a call one night that a street dealer was going around North Hills claiming to be a full blown carnal and he was collecting in the Eme's name. It takes Bobby no time at all to figure out who this impostor is. Bobby then grabs one of the impostor's associates and forces the associate to take him to the impostor's apartment. As soon as the impostor opens the door, Bobby blasts him and takes off with the impostor's associate. Although wounded severely, the impostor survives.

That same night or sometime later, Bobby takes the impostor's friend who ratted him out to Lake Los Angeles. Bobby tries to strangle the guy to death but the guy breaks free and takes off into the neighborhood.

Bobby is now facing attempt murder, kidnapping and other charges. A witness to all this is already dead and several others are missing and presumed hiding out.

The lessons here are clear. To anyone thinking of making a fast buck by collecting under false pretenses, you're better off just shooting yourself in the head. The brothers have a zero tolerance policy on this, as they do on most other infractions. Don't even think about it. It's suicide. One way or another, your criminal career is over. Not to mention your life.

The other lesson is that the intelligence system on the streets and in the prison/jail system operates extremely well. Nobody is ever slick enough to fly under the Eme's radar or ever pass out of the Eme's memory. Once there's a mark on your record street justice will be administered -- right now or sometime down the road. There have been cases of brothers waiting ten years to settle scores.

Another lesson might be to never become a witness. That, however, is sometimes impossible because if you're in the life, you never know when the straps are coming out and homies start throwing down. Needless to say, a witness is always viewed with suspicion by shooters and their crimies. The ultimate lesson here is that if you don't want to be a wit, don't clique up. Easier said than done.

As with a lot of these cases, there's some fallout that impacts other cases. More on that as Bobby's beef makes its way through the system and details become public knowledge.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

California has the reputation of being the nation's windsock. Trends, both good and bad, start here and before you can say "De donde eres?" tribesman in the Kalahari are wearing Nikes and doing the robot. So it's no surprise when towns a lot closer to LA start seeing some of our street culture.

Case in point is two towns in Idaho -- Caldwell and Nampa. Over the past few years, LE in these towns has seen something totally alien to that part of world -- drive bys, gang homicides, placasos and inked up pelons.

According to the local jura, the shooters and scooters are a combination of homegrown talent and a few shot callers imported from So Cal and other parts of the Southwest.

The bangers are replicating the same dynamic we see here in California. In Nampa, for instance, the homies have split the town into North and South. The North side flies the Catorce (14) flag while the south side, naturally, marshals up under the magic number of 13. Some of the sets claim 18th Street while others call themselves TINY TOONS and LOMAS. North side sports a red rag while Surenos go with blue.

But breaking with SOCAL tradition, the sets have an open enrollment program. You'll find hispanics, whites, blacks and some native americans in the same set. This is something most So Cal neighborhoods would find unacceptable.

Although there are a handful of validated brothers in the Idaho prison system and on the street, street dealers have yet to feel the sting of taxation and tribute. But that may change since LE has recently come in contact recently with some freshly arrived Texas Syndicate and Eme shot callers.

Idaho LE has yet to create its version of the CALGANGS database, so there's no state wide estimate on the number of homies, but Nampa PD has gang cards on 482 individuals who they claim are active. Which is quite a number in a town with 70,000 residents.

The serious students in the audience probably already know that the NUESTRA FAMILIA's bank was, and may still be, located in Boise, Idaho. That bank account was controlled by Cuete Rubalcaba, a member of the Mesa and supremo NF shot caller.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

In The Hat has a surprising number of UK readers so this next item won't be much of a revelatioin to them. With money provided by the Hollywood Entertainment District, the LAPD will be installing 64 video cameras in certain crime-riddled sections of Hollywood.

Civil libertarians are disturbed. As they should be.

Video monitoring was hugely successful in lowering the crime rate in MacArthur Park this year. When the cameras went up, the drug dealers, hookers, scam artists and gangsters un-assed and found other areas to torment the citizens. The city is hoping for the same result in Hollywood.

The ACLU's reaction was weirdly schizoid. As reported in the LAT, Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, was okay with the cameras in MacArthur Park, but called the cameras on Hollywood streets, "creeping, Big Brotherism." Of the cameras in the park she said, "This was a park that families couldn't use because of the pimps, the drug dealers. In that particular situation, we felt maybe the public safety issue did win out." On the public streets, however, she said, "the Police Department shouldn't be able to monitor everybody's comings and goings."

This is an intellectually indefensible argument. Not to mention stupid. The park is no less public than the street. And isn't it just as likely that families can't use the streets of Hollywood because of the dealers and gangsters? If she had the courage of her convictions, she would oppose cameras at both locations. A public space is a public space. If you're going to espouse certain principles, stick to them. This is one of the problems with the causes the ACLU decides to adopt. They seem to be motivated more by politics than principles. In New York, they forced the school system to provide special rooms for Muslim students to pray. The same organization is suing LA to remove the crucifix from the mission church pictured on the City's seal. If it were operating on pure principle, the ACLU would sue to ban all prayer in schools everywhere. Then they wouldn't appear to be schizophrenic when it comes to the cross on the LA seal.

An equally strange response on the camera issue came from Jan "Ban the Fast Food" Perry. In a famous example of prying into the lives of private citizens, she got city money to "study" the health effects of fast food on her constituents. She felt that it was the city's job to examine, comment and maybe even pass laws that would regulate the fat and carb content of the food her constituents eat. What she was advocating was, essentially, restraint of trade by trying to limit the number of fast food outlets in her district. But of the cameras she wants in her part of town, "I think it's great," she says. Maybe her ultimate agenda is to be the town busybody -- catch people eating burgers and fries on camera and send a sternly worded note to their doctors.

And then of course, there's the racial aspect. There's always a racial aspect in LA, isn't there? MacArthur Park is overwhelmingly Hispanic. Jan Perry's district is largely Black and Hispanic. Couldn't the argument be made that the cameras are singling out and targeting minorities? Racial activists are always complaining that their neighborhoods have too big a police presence anyway. Now they'll have a lot of cops and a lot of eyes on the lamposts. Just think of the word fest Mike Davis would have on this issue. It might go something like this. "What Daryl Gates' armored cars and stick-wielding, helmeted Panzergrenadiers couldn't accomplish will now be executed with the brutal efficiency of an electronic distant early warning system poised to suppress the first inkling of any popular resistance to a white oligarchy that is toxic not just to the citizens it suppresses but to the very alluvial and earthquake wracked soil it claims as its birthright." I just saved you the $25 bucks you were going to spend o his new book.

Ripston's argument is correct. This is creeping Big Brotherism. She should demand the cameras in MacArthur Park be taken down and the ones in Hollywood be stopped from going up. She should demand that crime be stopped the old fashioned way. Cops on the beat.
While going through the unread material that piled up while out of town, the LAT and Daily News reported that LA's commissar of Homeland Security, John Miller, turned in his LAPD-issued .38 revolver and his city-issued SUV. The SUV was equipped with lights and siren and, no doubt, all the comm gear you would expect in a police car. Why a civilian would need all that is beyond comprehension. He may fancy himself as JOE FRIDAY, but he's NOT a cop.

This was in the aftermath of Miller accidentally toting a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage at LAX. He still gets to keep his civilian carry permit which allows him to carry a concealed handgun. Two-tiered justice here. A "non-connected" civilian would have had his permit yanked in a heartbeat. That is, if a non-connected civilian would ever have a snowball's chance in Fallouja of getting a carry permit from the LAPD in the first place. LAPD, like most police agencies in left-leaning Claifornia, only issues permits to "friends" of the department (Miller, Dianne Feinstein, Sean Penn) or to people who hire lawyers and spend thousands of dollars in litigation with the city. Since my last posting on this issue, a reader informed me that an average civilian CAN get one of those rare LAPD carry permits (my reader has one) but you'll need a lawyer, money and patience. Which of course, no longer makes that civilian "average" because most people don't have the money and time to sue the city.

If Miller really wants to play cop, he should follow Chief Bratton's lead and take the P.O.S.T. courses and the exam. This is an issue that goes beyond simple fairness and equal representation. There's a huge liability issue as well. If Miller decided to go on a Code 3 run for some reason and takes out a mini-bus full of kids, imagine the lawsuits and the pay out. It's crazy to issue specialized equipment like a full-on emergency response vehicle, like the SUV, without the proper training and credentials.
We're back after a productive trip out of state but getting set to leave again next week. Love the research, hate staying in motels. Crime research, especially when you're visiting places like Mule Creek, Corcoran and Blythe, isn't exactly destination travel. You don't have much choice in lodging. It's either the motel next to the truck stop or the one next to the feed lot. Every time I check into one of these, I can't help but think of the story of a couple who complained about the lumpy bed in their room and discovered that the previous guest had stuffed a body between the box spring and the mattress.

Motels, or motor lodges as they were known in the days before nipple rings and suicide bombers, have long been popular hide-outs for criminals. In WHITE HEAT, Cody Jarrett hid out in several with his wife and his mother. Cody's mom rubbed his neck when he got those awful headaches. His wife smoked cigarettes and looked bored.

In HIGH SIERRA, Roy Earle and Marie Garson (and their adopted dog PARD) hopped around motels from the San Fernando Valley to Lone Pine. In the world of non-fiction, everyone from the Barrow gang to badland couple of Charley Starkweather and Caryl Fugate copped Zs and watched the parking lot for the heat in motels.

In the modern age, motels aren't just for hiding out from the cops or the spouse anymore. They've become forward deployed bases of operation. The 13 EME meetings that the FBI videotaped and used as evidence in the US vs. Aguirre RICO trial in 1995 were all conducted in the same motel in Rosemead. Unknown if the brothers got a frequent user discount. The CARL'S JUNIOR nearby was frequented by both TASK FORCE coppers and Carnals, sometimes just minutes apart.

Always versatile, the modern motel room has now become a handy chem lab for amateur and professional meth cookers. Recent advances in meth production have reduced the powerful chemo smell, but not the toxicity, so a seasoned cook can whip up a batch and be gone before the neighbors complain about that weird odor next door. OSHA should look into the toxic hazards motel cleaning crews might face after a meth chef decamps.

So the next time your travels compel you to stay at your typical NO TELL MOTEL and you feel a funny lump in the bed, a weird smell or some bizarro stain on dresser, be alert for what the previous occupant might have been doing. Of course, you could just sleep in the car.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Posting will be suspended until October 28. We're going out of town on a combined fact-finding mission and holiday. There won't be a chance to post. But for those of you out there who keep an eye out for stories and regularly contribute, keep sending those emails. We'll catch up when back in town.

Monday, October 11, 2004

This weekend, 14-year-old Byron Lee was shot to death while riding his bike near Stanford and 81st Street in South LA. There were two shooters. According to witnesses, the shooters moved up on Lee after he was down and continued firing as he was on his knees and apparently pleading for them not to shoot him anymore. He was hit eighteen times.

Lee, like the shooters, was black and cops suspect that this was gang related, even though Lee's mother says he wasn't ganged up. It hardly matters. These guys wanted him, or somebody else, dead. And they clearly didn't care all that much if he was the intended target.

This shooting reminded me of an incident in Kody Scott's book MONSTER. Kody mentions that he once shot a kid off his bike but doesn't reveal the aftermath. He doesn't mention if he killed the kid or winged him or crippled him for life. Scott also states that he shot a lot of "civilians," his term for people who were not ganged up or associates. And Scott never expressed much remorse.

If Lee's killers are ever caught and decide to write a best seller about shooting people, you have to wonder if they'll receive the same level of acclaim that Scott gets from academics and the media. His book is on the reading list of Race, Class and Gender classes all over the country. The LA Times called Monster, "one of the most disturbingly authentic triumphs of the human spirit ever executed in print."

The same weekend that Lee was executed brought the news that Jacques Derrida died of cancer. Derrida was the father of Deconstructionism, a "philosophy" much in vogue among university professors. The basic belief of this philosophy is that nothing can be known. Certainty is an illusion. It's impossible to pass judgment because reality is nothing more than personal narrative and subjective experience. The personal narrative of the shooters is as valid and free of disapprobation as that of Byron Lee's. In the world of intellectual discourse, shooter and victim are neither guilty or innocent.

The wide acceptance of Monster and other criminal confessionals is rooted in the nonsense of Deconstructionism. A clever professor could prove to Byron's mother that her son wasn't executed while begging for his life. It's just her subjective experience of the event. That professor can also prove that true justice could never be dished out to the shooters.

You could dismiss this nonsense if it were merely isolated to the classroom and lecture hall, the modern equivalent of ancient religious scholars discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The truth is, a lot of this Decon attitude permeates the media, the babbling class and even the criminal justice system. It leads to some horrific consequences. Defense lawyers leaking information to their clients about potential prosecution witnesses. Or academics being brought in as expert witnesses to prove that a visual ID of a shooter is beyond the capacity of the victims. And it even leads to defense lawyers covering up a shooter's tattoos with makeup during a trial to foil a positive ID. After all, guilt is a social construct that exists merely in the unenlightened mind. Intellectuals know better.

These true believers in the absolute impossibility of guilt or innocence, good or evil also show up on juries and are playing merry hell with criminal cases. More on that at another time.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The SILVER EAGLE MARKET in SACRAMENTO was apparently doing more than selling snacks and six packs. In a raid by narco cops pursuant to an undercover buy, Sacto cops found a gang of chronic and crack behind the counter all bagged up and ready for sale. They also found $370,000 in cash. When they raided the home of the owner, HIRENDRA SHARMA, they found an additional $40,000 in cash. Sharma wasn't home or at the store and is now a fugitive. I bet this guy didn't give a crap if you stood there and read the magazines all day long or boosted the occasional Litle Debbie.
In a story in today's LA TIMES, we get some more details on LA's anti-terror point man, JOHN MILLER and his remedial gun carrying problem. It appears that the gun Miller left in his carry-on luggage was NOT one of the guns on his carry permit. One important piece of information that the Times left out was that California carry permits will only allow the permit holder to list THREE guns on the permit. Some states have no restrictions on this point. You can carry any type of handgun that can be concealed. When the permit is issued, the Make, Model and serial number are typed righ on the permit by the folks on the 5th floor, LAPD's Gun Detail. And you can only carry what's on the permit.

What Miller had on his Bratton-issued permit were two .45 ACP Glocks and what the Times describes as a .38 caliber Beretta. We don't think Beretta makes a .38 caliber handgun. The .38 is a revolver round and Beretta does not produce revolvers. What the article probably meant to say that it was a .380, a entirely different type of round despite the similarity in nomenclature. Beretta does make handguns chambered for the diminutive .380 semi-auto cartridge.

The gun in question was apparently a Smith & Wesson chambered for the .38 caliber round, a revolver round. This gun was apparently issued to Miller by the LAPD. Or so the article says. We're wondering what the hell the LAPD is doing by issuing civilians handguns. From what we know of the law, police agencies do not issue guns to civilians, even if they're department employees.

If this is the case, then Miller was illegally carrying a loaded concealed weapon because according to the laws covering concealed carry, you can only carry one of the three guns spelled out on the permit itself.

If Miller had been a plain old civilian, chances are his permit would have been pulled immediately and he would probably never be issued another one. But he's not. He's in the privileged tier of the two-tiered system that governs concealed carry permits. Chances are, he'll keep his permit and get away with nothing more than a cool glance from his sponsor and friend, Chief Bratton.

Did Miller commit a crime? It sure looks like it. If not the crime of intentionally trying to carry a gun aboard an aircraft, then at least that of illegally carrying a loaded concealed weapon -- that S&W .38 that was NOT on his permit. We're looking forward to how this turns out.

Friday, October 01, 2004

This week we saw the final installment of OPERATION BLACK WIDOW in NORCAL. Eight shot callers of the NUESTRA FAMILIA took a guilty plea to federal racketeering charges and will be spending time in the federal prison system far from California. Five of the Familianos got life sentences while three got 10-year terms.

The five who'll be spending life in a Federal penitentiary are Gerald "Cuete" Rubalcaba, James Morado, Cornelio "Comi" Tristan, Joseph Raymond "Pinky" Hernandez, and Tex "Terrible T" Hernandez. These Familianos could be considered the NF's board of directors and ran the organization's business from prison.

The three with 10-year sentences are Daniel "Stork" Perez, Alberto Larez, and Henry "Big Happy" Cervantes.

Like LA's Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Crime, Operation Black Widow in Norcal was a combined Federal and local LE venture that targeted the leadership of organized crime syndicates. And like LA's Task Force, the investigation and prosecution would not have happened wihout the cooperation of confidential informants. From the LE point of view, it's impossible to crack organized crime without snitches. In the case of Black Widow, the most prominent snitch was ROBERT GRATTON. In LA's Task Force, LE had Ernest "Chuco" Castro that got the ball rolling and resulted in three huge RICO cases.

While there are a lot of similarities between the Norcal and Socal cases, there are a number of distinct differences. In Socal, the "business" was conventional street-oriented crime like tax collection and murder. Up north, the NF showed a remarkable capacity to morph into legitimate and/or semi-legitimate operations.

Gratton, with Gerry Cuete's blessing and support, founded NORTH STAR RECORDS, a rap label that launched the career of NORTENO rap star, SIR DYNO. The first CD, G.U.N. (Generation of United Nortenos), was a huge hit and was even carried in the racks at Sam Goody's. North Star was then used to launder drug money. As a result, Gratton was putting $5,000 a month into the NF's bank account in Idaho.

Other quasi legal businesses owned or controlled by Norteno shot callers included auto customizing shops, nightclubs and tire stores. Life was sweet and money was pouring in. That is until Gratton was put in the hat for being a little too independent. He was becoming too visible to LE and the media, and the Mesa, NF's board of directors, decided to check him.

In the end, Gratton cashed in his chips and ratted out the entire organization.

With the shot callers now scattered throughout the Federal prison system, it will no longer be as easy for them to communicate with the street as it was in Pelican Bay. At least that's LE's contention.

It remains to be seen if this latest blow to the NF will create a leadership crisis and a power vacuum that the Eme will try to exploit.
LAPD chief Bill Bratton is no longer a civilian. After studying and training for months, the Chief passed his P.O.S.T. tests and is now a sworn California peace officer and no longer needs his self-issued civilian permit to carry a concealed weapon. Lest you might think they bent the rules or made the tests easy to given Bratton his certification, former Chief Willie Williams never did pass the P.O.S.T. Williams tried four times and failed. LA cops no longer need to feel funny about saluting a civilian.

Monday, September 27, 2004

For out of town readers, the LA Daily News is publishing an 8-part series on street gangs. The first installment ran on Sunday. You can read it and the rest of the series at

So far, there's very little new information. At least new to us. Lots of stats and personal stories but not a whole lot of analysis or the kind of juicy stuff we like to read. We're curious to see if they run anything at all about the Wilson, Bowser, Hightower, Haggins etc. racially motivated homicides. The Times and DN have both done a great job of ignoring these killings and the motivation behind them.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

KABC TV news reported this afternoon that LA's Il Duce of anti-terror, John Miller, was stopped at LAX security for trying to carry a loaded gun onto a plane. The gun was in his carry-on luggage and apparently he just forgot it was there. Dumb!

From what we know, Miller has one of those nearly impossible to get LAPD permits to carry a concealed weapon. Miller, like William Bratton, is not a sworn peace officer. They're both civilian employees of the LAPD. Therefore the only way they can legally carry a gun is to obtain a civilian carry permit, something denied to the average law abiding Angeleno. The funny thing is, as chief of police Bratton had to apply to himself to get a permit. Naturally, he gave himself one. And Miller has one as well. They're pals and go back a long way and hey, what are friends for if you can't get a carry permit out of it?

Bratton comes from the New York City old boy network of permit patronage. In New York City, you're not even allowed to own a handgun in your house, let alone carry one, without a permit from the NYPD. Traditionally, any well-heeled and connected New Yorker has always had an easy time getting a permit to carry. New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, a big time anti-gunner, has one. So does Howard Stern, comedian Pat Cooper and dozens of business people and celebrities. In our own fair state of California, the same rules apply. Notorious anti-gun advocate Dianne Feinstein for years had a permit to carry, but said she gave it up. So does/did James Caan (he might have had his revoked, we hear). And of course, Robert (I forgot my gun in Vitello's) Blake. It might surprise a lot of Angelenos how many anti-gun Hollywood celebrities have permits to carry while they contribute to anti-gun groups like Sarah Brady's HCI. Sarah herself got into hot water when she bought a gun under her name and gave it to her son as a birthday present. Under one of the many laws she favors, this was an illegal transfer and she should have gone to jail.

LA celebrities don't get their permits from the LAPD. Like Blake who established a paper residence in Culver City while living in the Valley (LAPD jurisdiction), a lot of the elites establish residence in permit-friendly jurisdictions. Ted Cooke, the retired chief of Culver PD was very liberal in doling out permits and looking the other way on the issue of residence. That's where Caan got his. Edward James Olmos got his from the LASD. Permits are issued locally but are good all over the state. So if you have a second or third or fourth home somewhere in a rural permit friendly county, or Culver City, you're good to carry in Bel Air or Malibu.

But getting back to the John Miller incident. Miller's permit is only good in California. California carry permits are not recognized by any other state because California does not recognize any other state's carry permits. This means that when Miller landed in New York, merely being in possession of a gun without a local permit to carry or own would have put him in flagrant violation of New York City weapons laws. After all, he's no longer a New York resident and that disqualifies him from owning or carrying a gun or even being in possession of a handgun in New York City. What the hell was Miller going to do with his piece when he got there? It is illegal to bring a handgun into New York City. Motorists from other states have been arrested in the Big Apple and their guns confiscated merely for carrying unloaded guns in the trunks of their cars while passing through town. Same with Chuck Schumer's New Jersey.

The truth is, the New York cops would probably give Miller a pass and let him carry. After all, there are two sets of laws in the U.S. when it comes to personal defense. One that applies to the rich and mighty. And one that applies to the rest of us whose hides aren't worth as much. The right of self defense is one reserved for the elite and not us mere proles.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

One of my out of town readers just sent me an item from the Brownsville, Texas paper, The Herald. On September 3, Emma Perez-Trevino wrote about contacts between AL-QAIDA and the MARA SALVATRUCHA, a street gang with sets in Los Angeles, Texas, the US-MEXICO border and as far away as Virginia, New York and Boston. Just so you know, MS has a lot of sets, some of whom operate under the Sureno flag. Others don't. Look for the MS13 placa to determine if they're Sureno. Non-affiliates drop the 13.

The information on this possible alliance came from the U.S. House Select Committee on Homeland Security. According to a member of that committee, Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, a Democrat from Texas, "We have been in contact wtih El Salvadoran officials and they have verified that Al-Qaida has been active in these gangs."

Ortiz, along with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Jim Turner, both Texas Democrats, have asked for more cooperation between the Border Patrol, the FBI and the CIA. All three pols called the OTM policy (Other Than Mexican), "nothing more than a conduit for terrorists." Apparently, 80% to 90% of the 25,000 OTMs arrested on the U.S. side of the border are released on their own recognizance with nothing more than a promise to appear for a hearing. Guess how many actually show up.

For the complete story, a Google search for the Brownsville Herald will take you to the site. I don't do links.

The concept of streets gangs making alliances with foreign powers is not new. In 1987, four members of Chicago's El Rukn gang were convicted of accepting $2.5 million from Lybia to plan and execute terrorist attacks in the U.S. That same year, Jeff Fort, founder of the Blackstone Rangers traveled to Lybia where Muammar Qaddafi presented him with a rocket launcher. The FBI intercepted the weapon and arrested Fort. Louis Farrakhan made the introductions and accompanied Fort to Lybia. More recently, Jose Padilla, a Chicago street gangster was arrested for trying to organize a dirty bomb attack in the U.S.

On the other side of the coin, Italian mobster Lucky Luciano made a deal with the Government during the war. In exchange for his help in gathering intelligence and putting friends on the ground prior to the invasion of Sicily, Luciano was allowed to leave prison and deported at the end of the war. Even without the aid of the internet and satellite phones, Luciano had no trouble calling the shots to his New York crime family from his villa in Palermo.

We'll see what develops with the MS.